Nintendo big boss Bowser talks what’s next for the video game giant
|Toronto Star 16 Jun 2019 at 04:03|
The newly minted president of Nintendo of America has been trying to get past some of the super hard boss battles in Cuphead, the locally made, indie platform game.
“Playing is a loosely used word. I’m not sure if I’m playing Cuphead or if Cuphead is playing me,” he says with a laugh. “You know what, it’s a beautiful game, and so creative and so unique. And I’m enjoying it.”
Bowser is calling from Los Angeles during E3, the video game industry’s biggest annual showcase and industry event for a Canadian exclusive interview with the Star. Bowser and Nintendo just released their latest Direct video, which detailed the company’s news about several games coming in the next year.
Nintendo is the Disney of the video game world, and it announced plenty that should get fans excited, including a Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel; a Link’s Awakening remake; new characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt coming to Switch; Wolfenstein: Youngblood; and more information on games like Luigi’s Mansion 3, Pokémon Sword and Shield, Super Mario Maker 2 and more.
In this job since April, Bowser was promoted from vice-president of marketing at Nintendo, which he had been since 2015. He knows well the power and allure of the company’s many characters — and better than most, thanks to his surname, which he coincidentally shares with the main villain in the Mario series of games.
Nintendo and its fans love memes, and the company poked some fun in the Direct video, with an opening scene with Bowser (the human) shoving Bowser (the villain) out of the way.
“It is unique, I cannot deny that it is somewhat ironic that I share a name with a very iconic character here at Nintendo and we embrace that,” he says. “We had fun building that particular episode, but I like to remind people that I am very different from the character Bowser … and our job is to put our brand and put those characters, like the other Bowser, in front and make sure our fans are enjoying them and the games they are in.”
Well, it’s certainly good to confirm that he has no nefarious plans to kidnap Princess Peach.
Bowser takes over Nintendo at a very interesting time in the video game world. The Nintendo Switch has had a great first two years, selling 34 million consoles worldwide, making it the fastest-selling console in the past two generations. Nintendo has a number of great first-party games but has rekindled interest from other developers, who mostly skipped the company’s last console, the Wii U.
That said, both Microsoft and Sony are preparing their next consoles, likely arriving in 2020. As well, cloud-based gaming looks close to being ready for prime time, with Microsoft showing xCloud at E3 and Google’s Stadia arriving in an early form in November. The idea is a Netflix for gaming, which would hopefully eliminate consoles and let people game on virtually any device.
Bowser says they are taking a look at it, but it’s all about the games for Nintendo.
“We’re always interested in how different technologies can enable different kinds of game play, and we’re clearly looking at this and wondering how that could apply from a Nintendo perspective,” he says. “We seldom talk what’s under the hood, because we want to talk about what’s on the screen, the experience that people are getting and how we’re taking our technology to create unique game play experiences.”
While everyone would love to hear about Nintendo’s new technology, with rumours abounding of a new, souped-up version of the Switch, Bowser won’t take the bait and reiterates that Nintendo is keeping the focus on games.
It seems to be working: Nintendo has been hailed as having “won” E3 this year, with many online plaudits for its games-packed lineup, which will build momentum for the Switch.
Another thing Nintendo doesn’t seem to be talking about is the 3DS hand-held console. Many critics have pointed out that no new games have been announced for it and the Switch is really a bigger, more powerful version of the 3DS. I ask Bowser if it is dead.
“The 3DS is not dead. The install base is strong. It has over 1,000 games on it and is still selling through well, and we think it holds a very unique position for a hardware offering. Especially the 2DS, it’s a great entry point for a young gamer,” he says.
For the house that Mario built, the focus on family-friendly gaming has always paid dividends, but, unlike its last big hit, the Wii, the Switch has more core gaming experiences, like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Wolfenstein: Youngblood.
“We want to make sure we have the best games from the best publishers on Nintendo Switch. I’m glad to see The Witcher 3,” Bowser says. “But it’s not about a tent pole; it’s about this robust lineup and having something for every gamer.”